RE-VISIONING RELATIONAL MEETINGS
Adapted from Story of Power and Power of Story
By Dick Harmon
Here, the experience of I-Thou can expand.
As we reflect on the energy and mystery in each person and the process as a whole, we can perhaps begin to see a “shimmer,” a “glow,” a “new life” in the people we have come to know; and in our own self.
And as we experience those dimensions of life-with-others as real, we may experience the same kind of encounter not just with humans, but with other living organisms as well. This is the experience of St. Francis of Assisi, of countless indigenous people past and present, and countless naturalists, all over the planet. We begin to recognize Earth, with all its creatures and support systems.
We may find ourselves talking with plants, other animals, even all kinds of creepers and crawlers, above and below the grass. Or our four-year old grandson may invite us to see the world as he sees it, where joy and wonder are natural and plentiful.
We may wind up learning that, for five hundred years, the political economy of the rich nations has had us conceiving of ourselves as separate from and superior to Earth and its creatures.
We may go so far as developing a daily spiritual practice, to keep ourselves open to other humans and the other living beings. We may re-visit the scriptures of our particular wisdom tradition—and other traditions— to see what they say about creation, or nature. We may feel drawn to increase our literacy about Earth’s biosphere— its air, water, soil, life— and the energy of our Sun. We may wake up to the crisis of Earth’s climate and species crises: our recognition of Earth, its species and systems, widens and deepens.
Perhaps we begin to talk all this over with people, in a new level of relational meetings. In these conversations, we may begin to see each other as revelations of more than “the world” of the political economy. We may see in each person our radical relationality with all living organisms, all of Earth’s creatures, all of the work of our biosphere. An alternative world-view and practice emerge and deepen, an ancient but new creation myth, a story-system for our time.
But that discernment may also bring us into awareness that almost all of us live our everyday lives as if we have no root connection with Earth and its creatures and systems. Our planet, with all its life and beauty, is for most of us most of the time, an object merely for our use. Our culture has wrapped hundreds of millions of us in a kind of saran-wrap, sanitizing our relationships with nature, dumbing and numbing our own sensitivities, cutting us off from nature’s energies and teachings.
We may wind up learning that, for five hundred years, the political economy of the rich nations has had us conceiving of ourselves as separate from and superior to Earth and its creatures. In this view, Earth’s biosphere—our air, water, soil, life, and the Sun’s energy that energizes it all, are all objects, for our sole extractive use, without respect, without recognition, without regard for the sacredness of their life.
And this realization may break in on us, cracking our walls of indifference, filling us with deepest sorrow, weeping, in full-blown grief, for the passion story of Earth and all its creatures, streams and oceans, for our own families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and especially for our young.